Washington Redskins Roster Analysis: Running Backs

By Kelso Carpenter

My apologies for the gap in writing over the past couple of weeks.  After my emergency appendectomy, I was put on military orders for some mandatory training and wasn’t able to write anything.  But here I am, and I wanted to pick up where I left off with the roster analysis.   The first installment focused on the wide receiving corps.  Today, I wanted to take a look at the running backs:

Ryan Torain (6’1, 220 lbs): He was by far the most productive running back on the roster in 2010, but he still hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy.  I think he’ll start the season as the #1 guy, but we’ll see where it goes from there.

Keiland Williams (5’11, 220 lbs): He is probably the best pass blocking running back on the team now that Clinton Portis is gone and that will probably be the main reason he makes the squad.  I’m a little bit skeptical of his overall potential though because I’ve always felt he was virtually the same back as Ryan Torain.  Can he set himself apart?

James Davis (5’11, 220 lbs): He had a very productive college career but has bounced around in the pros.  He’s got good ability but hasn’t done much to deserve a spot on the team.  He should probably be the most concerned about the two new rookie running backs.

Andre Brown (6’0, 225 lbs): Didn’t make it off the practice squad last year and I don’t expect 2011 to be any different.

Chad Simpson (5’9, 215 lbs): Nice idea giving him a look, but he won’t be back.

Shawbrey McNeal (5’8, 190 lbs): See above.

Roy Helu (5’11, 220 lbs): Has very good speed but average lateral movement.  His one-cut running style fits in nicely with the Shanahan system, hence why he moved up in the fourth round to grab him.

Evan Royster (6’0, 215 lbs): The Northern Virginia native racked up a ton of yards at Penn State (the most ever, actually) but his speed/quickness is average at best.  That said, he’s a very elusive and natural runner and I think this seventh round pick may end up being a diamond in the rough.

FB Mike Sellers (6’3, 265 lbs):  Hard to believe he’s still suiting up at almost 36 years old.  I think he’s just about done but he may have one solid year left in him.

FB Darrel Young (5’11, 245 lbs):  Speaking of Mike Sellers’ replacement.  Young showed some flashes last season and the coaches are reportedly high on him.  We’ll see if he continues to progress and eventually takes the starting full back spot.

So who makes it?

This will be one of the better battles in training camp.  They can only keep so many running backs, especially when you consider the battles that will be taking place at other positions (i.e. wide receiver).

I think Torain and Williams are locks based on what they were able to do last year.  Same with Mike Sellers and Darrel Young since they can both play special teams.  I’m thinking that leaves probably two spots.  Do they give James Davis another shot?  I don’t think so.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t have drafted two guys with similar skill sets in Helu and Royster, both of whom are a couple years younger than Davis.

I think Mike Shanahan goes with the two rookies.

So here’s your list of active running backs on the Redskins’ roster come September (assuming there’s a season of course):

RB:  Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Roy Helu, Evan Royster

FB:  Mike Sellers, Darrel Young

The rest will have to hang out on the practice squad and hope for their shot down the road.

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